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Epicurus & Cicero (2018)

Epicurus & Cicero (2018)

A lecture on Epicureanism, focused on texts by Epicurus and Cicero, for an Introduction to Philosophy course at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, Canada in January 2018.

Editable, PPTX version can be found here:
http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6H541

Philosophy
Epicurus

Christina Hendricks

January 15, 2018
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Transcript

  1. Epicurus
    & Cicero
    PHIL 102, UBC
    Christina Hendricks
    Spring 2018
    Bust of Epicurus from the Pergamon Museum, Berlin,
    uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by Captmondo,
    licensed CC BY-SA 3.0
    Except images licensed otherwise, this presentation
    is licensed CC BY 4.0

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  2. Timeline
    Socrates: 469-399 BCE
    Plato: 427-348 BCE
    Epicurus: 341-271 BCE
    Cicero: c. 106-43BCE
    (Roman)
    Roman copy of a bust of Epicurus, after a lost Greek
    original, Wikimedia Commons, public domain

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  3. Macedonia & Greece, 336 BCE
    Much of
    Greece
    conquered
    by Philip of
    Macedon
    (Father of
    Alexander
    the Great)
    Map of Macedonia,
    Wikimedia Commons,
    licensed CC BY SA 2.5

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  4. Alexander the Great’s
    empire, 334-323 BCE
    Macedon Empire, Wikimedia Commons, licensed CC BY SA 3.0

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  5. Texts we’re reading
    • Epicurus: “Letter to Menoeceus”: a letter by
    Epicurus to someone named Menoeceus, telling him
    how to live a good life
    • Epicurus: “Principal Doctrines”: a list of short
    sayings by Epicurus, designed to be easily
    remembered and put into practice
    • Cicero: Selections from De Finibus Book 1:
    a dialogue that includes multiple philosophical views
    prevalent in Rome at the time

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  6. Epicurus: epistemology
    Epicurus is an empiricist
    • the original source of
    information for
    knowledge is experience
    • Either from sensation of
    things outside of us or
    experience of our own
    thoughts & feelings
    Icons by stephanie kadam, from Noun Project,
    licensed CC BY 3.0

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  7. Epicurus: Physics
    Argument: why, for Epicurus,
    • the universe is made up only of matter and void
    (emptiness)
    • matter is made up of smallest particles called “atoms”
    This argument will be on the document camera on screen
    in class next week

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  8. Gods & the soul
    The gods do not control the universe; it works on its
    own through principles of physics
    There is no such thing
    as an immaterial,
    immortal soul
    o The soul is made of
    matter: atoms
    o Soul & body bound
    together; soul cannot
    operate outside body
    Hermes, Dionysos, Ariadne & Poseidon, in the Louvre, from Wikimedia Commons,
    Public Domain

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  9. With winter comes death, Flickr photo by Keith Trice, licensed CC BY 2.0
    Epicurus on death
    Outline Epicurus’ argument in Letter to
    Menoeceus, first paragraph under “Don’t fear
    death”
    Discuss the strength/weakness of this
    argument in discussion classes this week.

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  10. Evaluating arguments
    Questions to ask:
    1. Are the premises true?
    2. If the premises are true, does the conclusion follow
    with certainty or with high probability?
    o Deductive arguments: aim to show that if the
    premises are true, the conclusion must be true
    o Inductive arguments: aim to show that if the
    premises are true, the conclusion is highly
    probable

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  11. Why need knowledge of
    epistemology, physics, gods?
    To live the best life possible
    Best human life has the lhighest goodz:
    • ultimate end/goal of all action
    • that which is only ever sought as an intrinsic
    good, not as an instrumental good

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  12. The highest good
    For Epicurus, the highest good is pleasure (lLetter
    to Mz p. 2; Cicero p. 1, 3)
    Can you think of anything else it might be?

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  13. Different kinds of pleasure
    • Kinetic pleasure
    o pleasure gotten from fulfilling
    desires (Cicero p. 2)
    o Problems with this? (Why
    wouldn’t it be the best pleasure?)
    • Static pleasure
    o Pleasure felt when you don’t have
    unfulfilled desires, when you have
    well being, lack of pain (“Ltr to
    M,” p. 2; Cicero p. 2)

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  14. Goal of life: Ataraxia
    • having a life with a good deal of static pleasure
    • lack of physical or mental pain, not having
    unfulfilled desires, sense of peace and tranquility
    (lLetter to M,z p. 2)
    Tabitha the Tabby, Flickr photo shared by Steve
    Johnson, licensed CC BY 2.0
    Buddha statues at Hase-dera, Flickr photo by
    Andrea Schaffer, licensed CC BY 2.0

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  15. How to live the best life
    Natural desires
    Necessary
    (Cicero 3-4)
    Bring pain if not fulfilled;
    necessary for happiness,
    health or life itself (Ltr M
    p. 2); e.g., food, shelter,
    rest, friendship
    Unnecessary
    Need not bring pain if not
    fulfilled; can get rid of desire
    fairly easily (Pr Doct #26,
    30); e.g., luxurious food &
    clothing, (sometimes) sex
    Vain desires
    come from “baseless
    opinion” (Pr Doct #29)
    Always unnecessary;
    e.g., power, wealth,
    fame, immortality

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  16. Friendship important for best
    life
    • Principal Doctrines 27 & 28, Cicero p. 6-7
    • Why would friends be so important for pleasurable
    life?
    • If the highest good is pleasure for oneself, then one
    seeks friends for one’s own pleasure; can one really
    have good friendships then?
    Unspoken, Flickr photo by Marina del Castell, licensed CC BY 2.0

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  17. Virtues important for best life
    • Principal Doctrines 5, Letter to M p. 3
    • Cicero’s text: moral virtues include wisdom,
    temperance, courage, justice
    • Epicurus’ view of justice, Pr. Doctrines 31-38:
    mutual agreements not to cause or allow harm
    o Justice is what leads to the most pleasure in
    various times/places; may be same for all people,
    or not (there may not be universal rules of justice)

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  18. Virtues only good b/c ataraxia
    • Practicing the virtues is only instrumentally good:
    good because leads to something else that’s good
    (pleasure, ataraxia)
    • Being virtuous is not intrinsically good
    Good b/c leads to
    Happy face icon by Milky-Digital innovation,
    from The Noun Project
    How/why?

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